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The artistic practice that Ben Van den Berghe has developed over the last few years originates from a strong interest in the ways individuals and society at large give meaning and structure to life through psychology, politics, religion, traditions… In his recent work — which consists of photo’s, video’s and (manuals for) performances — he has focused on, for example, the symbolic potential of individual assaults on powerful figures, the power games behind seemingly innocent handshakes, and the contagiousness of laughter.
Using photography as an important point of reference, the artist takes a critical stance within a documentary tradition. But photography is perhaps more a state of mind for the artist than it is his prefered medium: it is a way of keeping the day-to-day reality outside contemporary art close, but also of consciously selecting what is important, of choosing what is worth to see and show. This entails that, for Van den Berghe, being an artist does not only involve producing images, but also selecting and shaping them into exhibitions, and more broadly, an ever evolving body of work. It also means that there is a thin line between creating and curating. Having initiated several collaborative projects and co-curated photography festivals in Antwerp and Amsterdam, his collaborations could be considered an essential part of his own work. Together, his disparate, research-based projects form an encyclopedic and archival practice that deals with both the aesthetics and ethics of making artistic decisions and finding systems that generate meaning.